I finally have a Jennifer Lauren Afternoon blouse. And an afternoon dress.
It’s a simple design with graceful lines that fit in to my vintage and modern sense of style. I’ve had my eye on the pattern for a while and having made it, I can now tell you it’s a good one. I’m usually a hater of non-functional buttons but in this case, it suits the dress well.
Based on my measurements, I chose to make a size 14 with a full bust adjustment. It took a little trial and error to get the bust dart in the right place, making me glad that I did a trial run.
My “muslin” or tester garment is the blouse version. Knowing I would make the dress in a lovely drapey rayon, I picked through my stash and found just enough of this horse print. When I bought the horse fabric several years ago, I thought it was “Italian Cotton,” but since then I have come to believe it’s rayon. It’s a bit flimsier than the Cotton + Steel bird fabric, but was close enough to check the fit.
Once I was happy with the fit — and really, that was no more work than the FBA— I extended the length. Extending the line from the new post-FBA side seam made the bottom portion approximately a size 16, so I used that size’s length as well. I assembled the dress without the box pleat, thinking I would try wearing it first and decide whether I wanted one and how big it should be. I’m happy with the way it fits without one. I struggled a little, too, with understanding the box pleat instructions, and while the illustrations of the pleat are a little vague, I did find more detailed photos on the website.
The only construction challenge I had was in attaching the front to the front facing. The instructions are good, and illustrations clear, it’s just a tricky thing to put together. On my dress, the second version, I clearly marked the stitching lines and pivot points, and it went together more smoothly. I would suggest that if someone was unsure about doing that part, they try a practice run first. I also appreciate Jen’s optional instructions to topstitch the neck—with my combination of narrow shoulders and large bust, it helps to not expose what ought not be exposed.
I enjoyed making this dress, and the tester blouse. It went together relatively quickly and could become a prominent part in my wardrobe. I’m glad I finally sewed it, and while the pattern was provided to me in order to test and review it, the opinions are entirely my own. Jennifer is highlighting one of her patterns each month, and if you are interested in seeing more of her designs and the completed projects other sewists have made, check out her website.